Quick News Links for Week Ending 6/6/2008

  • Command line interface to Google, Wikipedia
    I love the idea and the implementation is wonderful. Make sure you add to your Firefox search field. Also a good way to check whether Google has picked up latest updates in your feeds.
  • Lawyers assessing risk of GPL3
    I don’t entirely agree with the authors interpretation of GPL, especially that freedom of the software trumps freedom of the user as that contradicts freedom zero. But advising businesses to do their best to understand the license before choosing to use it is a good idea, regardless.
  • Vinge’s latest ideas about the Singularity
    Vinge remains optimistic though realistic enough to still consider Singularity as not inevitable. His article is an interesting survey of the other articles in the themed issue and a good overview of the state of the subject.
  • Revisiting Wikia, Wales’ human powered search
    The promised editing tools have shown up, including rating and the ability to update or revise the description associated with results. It is still early days so remains to be seen if the model that worked so well for Wikipedia will work here. It will also be interesting to compare Wikia’s evolution from here on out with Mahalo which has a limited set of editors and appears more dedicated to search quality than total open-ness.
  • x86 turns 30 years old
    Love it or hate it, it is hard to argue that the x86 architecture dominates many markets. The linked article is a good history of the technology’s success to date.
  • Bletchley Park taking online donations
    Donations are via credit card and in British pounds. Still, I view this site as part of world computing heritage. Consider helping the trust maintain the site for posterity. I’d love to visit it myself, some day.
  • First programmer meets Babbage this week 175 years ago
    Ada Lovelace was history’s first programmer, credited also with conceiving of the loop, all based on her love of mathematics and first meeting with Babbage who conceived of the first general purpose computer. Not surprising, she was also apparently instrumental in popularizing Babbage’s work.
  • SCOTUS judge contributes to legal simulation video game
    The game in question is aimed at junior high school students and is meant to teach civics. The announcement was part of an event, Games for Change, intended to explore how gaming can help deal with social issues.
  • Downside of laptops in education, developing nations
    The core of the linked paper is about the decision to try to foil theft of XO laptops by welding user identities unsafely to the machines. Much of the social and political impacts stem from this initial priority decision. Since the OLPC security chief who wrote Bitfrost left, it is unclear what affect this paper will have.
  • Candidates on five big tech issues
    Most of the answers are predictable. In some cases, Obama is a bit more progressive. All three are more alike than not on IP reform, which is worrisome, and only Clinton seems very interested in consumer privacy. The article also provides more information on all five issues for those not as well informed who might want some background, further reading.
  • Little Brother inspired Linux distro under development
    It looks like the project just started and is mostly in the discussion phase. If it approaches the goal Cory described in my recent interview of a very simple end user experience and only re-uses technologies like Tor, that would be worthwhile of itself.
  • Using diamonds for quantum computing
    This takes advantage of natural or induced nitrogen vacancies in diamond’s otherwise uniform carbon lattice. Researchers have already achieved durable entangled states, showing promising for scaling up and entangling multiple vacancies in a more reliable fashion.
  • Microsoft adding Ruby to Silverlight
    Since Silverlight is more like Flash, using Ruby is not so different from ActionScript/FLEX. It is surprising that Microsoft is including a language not their own but may be a move to try to capitalize on Ruby’s popularity and momentum to jump start their own “me too” technology.
  • AT&T trying to embrace BitTorrent, adjust pricing
    CTO claims the telco has never interfered with any specific application. This is offset by his discussion of plans to introduce usage based pricing on claims that a minority of users are soaking up the majority of capacity and should essentially be taxed for doing so.
  • Software updated shuts down nuclear power plant
    At its core, the problem was a connection between the business and control network that should not have been there. The shutdown was apparently a fail safe. This story is hardly reassuring about our ability to handle every more complex systems safely.
  • Story behind the Zac Browser for autistic children
    This particular story, out of all the mentions I’ve seen about this project, captures more of the human element, that this is about a grandfather helping his grandson, first, and serving the broader community second. The browser is free to use, though, so it is a pretty close second.
  • Wiki supporting legitimate uses of P2P technology
    The more clear information about the technology, the better. This would appear to be a good complementary effort to the UW study that I’ll talk about in the podcast.
  • Full body scanners now live in 10 US airports
    The privacy abuses are obvious and the citizen confusion is telling. How much money has been sunk into this technology that could be spent on training more air marshals or other more effective measures? And where is the data on whether prior uses of the technology has made a difference?
  • OS X 10.5.3 regression bites Mozilla
    I am most concerned by the suggested that this may not be a limited issue, that the low level function in question could interfere not just with other aspects of Mozilla but even cause problems for other 3rd party software.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *